Parent questions whether son with autism's fall was an accident or negligence

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LONGWOOD -

A fall at school left a 9-year-old with autism in need of surgery, leaving his mom to ask if it was due to an accident or negligence.

Dolly Sanchez was called to her son Matthew's year-round special education program P10X at 333X Tuesday morning. Teachers told her he fell while playing outside, leaving him bloodied with broken front teeth.

"When I got the phone call at 10:15 in the morning, she told me he was running really, really fast," says Sanchez. "But when I got to school, he was just playing, and he tripped over his own feet and he fell. But I don't know if that really happened."

The situation was made more confusing for Sanchez because Matthew has autism, and she says his individualized education program set by the city's Department of Education assigns him a 1-on-1 health paraprofessional to be with him in school at all times.

While picking her son up, she learned the paraprofessional had just been replaced with someone new the week before.

A DOE occurrence report simply states Matthew "fell while running outside the school yard." His tooth was reattached, but his dentist says he can't return to school until he can eat properly again.

Sanchez was told by school staff that when Matthew returns, his original paraprofessional will be back at his side.

A spokesperson for the DOE told News 12, "Safety always comes first, and the school immediately addressed this incident. It was referred for investigation, and we'll take any necessary follow-up action."

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